Summary: The renewing of our minds will transform how we live. Our daily walk in the christian life says a lot about what we feed our minds and hearts with
Who am I?...In my Right Mind!
Romans 12 verses 1-8
What do you think of yourself? In his book ‘When Men Think Private Thoughts’ Gordon MacDonald has two men playing a game at midnight. These two men are from completely different ends of the economic and social spectrum. One is a multi-millionaire and living in a penthouse apartment. The other lives in a small house, is a carpenter and yet it is this man who is the more content when he weighs up his lot in life, his estimation of himself and how others view him. MacDonald says that at some point everyman plays the midnight game. I would go further and say that at some point every one of us here have played just such a game in our minds and hearts. We have taken stock of life. Weighed up how others see us. We have examined what we think of ourselves. And I believe it would be fair to say that the majority of you did not view yourselves in a positive way. Let me read you three verses again from Romans 12 and I want to concentrate on these this morning as we look at Who am I?...In my Right Mind! Read Romans 12 verses 1-2
Context – the letter to the believers at Rome, who were predominantly Gentiles, was written around AD57 when Paul was on his third missionary journey. The purpose of the letter was to prepare the way for his coming to Rome, to present the basic gospel of salvation to a church which had not received the teaching of an apostle before and to explain the relationship between Jew and Gentile in God’s overall plan of redemption. The first 11 chapters outline the doctrinal teaching of the gospel and as you see chapter 12 verse 1 begins with the word ‘therefore,’ linking the practical outworking (which is about to follow) with the doctrine outlined previously. So let us look at verses 1-3 of chapter 12.
Verse 1 – Paul begins this section of his letter with a call to wholehearted and whole life commitment to God in light of His mercy to the believer. We read that Paul ‘urges’ or beseeches them to offer their ‘bodies as sacrifices.’ I know the NIV has it as ‘living sacrifices’ but the Greek literally reads ‘offer your bodies as sacrifices, living, holy and pleasing to God.’ It is significant what Paul asks them to do here. The idea of offering yourself as a sacrifice would have been familiar to the believers in Rome. However the difference is that instead of an animal being offered to God it was to be there bodies. Further this was a conscious choice by them, the animal in a sacrifice had no choice. The animal was killed but they were to offer themselves not as those who had died but as living, holy and pleasing to God. This sacrifice of themselves was not a dead one but one full of the energy of life and like all sacrifices they belonged to God and could not be taken back by the giver. In essence Paul is saying to them in light of the mercy God has shown you in sending Christ Jesus to die for you, to save you from the wrath of God and eternal damnation, in light of this mercy, you are to offer all that you are, all that you have, every part of your life to God. You no longer belong to yourself but to God. The recipients of this letter knew that sacrifices were offered morning and evening in the Temple and so they would have understood that Paul was calling them to a daily offering and commitment of their lives to God. This was no once a week offering. This was more than a daily five minutes. The call is to wholehearted and whole of life commitment to God as a response to His mercy shown in salvation. Paul concludes verse 1 by saying this ‘is your spiritual act of worship.’ The daily sacrificing of their lives to God was their ‘spiritual act of worship.’ This was to be an intelligent and deliberate choice every day for them. The animal sacrifice had no choice, they did and they were to choose everyday to surrender their lives to God. Note please that for Paul ‘spiritual worship’ was to do with daily living and their daily walk before God – it was not limited to what they did when they came together as the body of believers on Sunday morning.
Verse 2 – But how were the believers in Rome, and us today, to live such lives of sacrifice? Verse 2 is one of thee most significant verses in all of Paul’s letters. Read verse 2. The dedicated life is also to be the transformed life. Paul wants them to be able to maintain their commitment to Christ. So often people start out with great commitment to Christ but over time it wanes and some even fall away. Some of you this morning know exactly what I am saying. You have lost that initial passion you had for Christ. The flame of faith is almost extinguished this morning. Why? What happened to smoother your faith? I think the answer lies in verse 2. What happened was ‘conformity’ to this world and not ‘transformation’ in the light of the world to come. Let me explain that to you. Before you came to Christ you lived according to the old man, self, the old Adam. This old Adam was by nature sin, and lived according to the flesh by choice. When you came to Christ that was changed. By the new birth you no longer live according to the old nature but according the Spirit of God which is now in you. You are now a co-heir with Christ, a sinner saved by grace with the hope and promise of eternal life in heaven. But here is where the rubber hits the road – you know must choose to live either according to the Spirit or the flesh. You must choose daily which will be the determining factor in how you live your life each day. Paul says to the believers the challenge is not to conform to the patterns, the sinful ways, the sinful thinking, of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of your minds. How is this done? Well let me say to you Paul only ever uses the word ‘transform’ on one other occasion in his letters – 2 Corinthians 3 verse 18, read – where it speaks of being changed into Christlikeness. You know the word ‘transform’ which Paul chooses to use is the same word used to speak of the transfiguration of Christ before the disciples on the mountain. Paul says to the believers at Rome, and to us, that there is to be a conscious renewing of our minds which will transform our lives so that they become sacrifices which are living, holy and pleasing to God. Look at the text closely and you see the way this renewal will transform us – with our minds we understand the patterns of this world which lead us not to transformation, not to daily sacrifice for Christ, but to conformity with this world. In Galatians 1.4 Paul says that as believers we have been delivered from this present age, whose god is satan (2 Cor.4.4) and that we live by the power of the age to come (Heb.6.5), therefore why would we conform to the thinking and the ways of this world. You see Paul understood that in the spiritual life of every believer the battle for control of the mind would ultimately lead to either victory or defeat in daily living. That is why he has spent the first 11 chapters of his letter outlining doctrine – because what you believe ultimately decides how you live. The man who believes that success is decided by wealth and possessions will live accordingly. The world cheapens relationships, marriage, family life and people live accordingly. What you think dictates how you live. Psychologists tell us there are two simple rules to do with the mind: